Toshiba Satellite A660 16in laptop
Symmetry, we've heard of it
Review Fitting a widescreen display into a laptop is all well and good, but it poses a problem: what do you do with all the empty space around the keyboard, now that the machines are so much bigger from one side to the other?
Toshiba's Satellite A660-15T: looks only a mother could love?
The original solution was to place a speaker either side of the keyboard, and that didn't look so bad with 16:10 aspect ratio screens. Screen aspect ratios have changed once more, to TV-like 16:9, but because their diagonal dimension hasn't, laptops are even wider now.
That leaves the keyboard looking as lost now on a 15.6in laptop as it used to do on an old 17in model. Abhorring a vacuum, designers have tried to do something about this, and a common approach, as adopted by Toshiba here, is to slot in a numeric pad.
Quite apart from the fact that this is unnecessary on a consumer-oriented machine, it has the effect of pushing the trackpad even further from the middle of the laptop's wrist rest area, making for a small space on the left but acres of room on the right.
Ergonomically, that may not be an issue, but aesthetically it leaves a lot to be desired and leaves the Satellite A660 seeming oddly out of kilter. Indeed, since you naturally sit facing the axis through the trackpad and main keyboard, you find yourself gravitating toward the left side of the screen.
The way-to-the-left trackpad positions the user away from the centre of the screen
Combine that with the A660's mix of glossy black, matte black and textured black plastics, and you have a notebook that's never going to win any design awards.
Next page: It's what's inside that counts
What lousy specs
For 900 quid they couldn't even increase the resolution of the screen the tiniest bit? I haven't bought a new laptop in years because the trend has actually been toward increased dot pitch, not decreased. I also find 16:10 generally better for everyday tasks than either 4:3 or 16:9, hits the sweet spot somehow, but I must be in the minority. Too bad my choices have been effectively wiped out by profit mongering.
That's barely adequate specs
You used to be able to get PCs that put that to shame: 1920x1200 in 15". What happened? Was that just a seasonal fad, then people figured out that software hadn't quite caught up to the hardware, or OEMs had no idea how to preconfigure font scaling? (Though OS font scaling and browser pic scaling seems to work fine these days.)
Laptops these days require external keyboard and monitor
1) Widescreen laptops have their vertical pixels reduced to x768 where it used to be x800. This means a lot more downward scrolling. Waste of time. Also because the screen is more restrictive than the graphics card, to see in a higher resolution you need to plug in an external monitor.
2) Keyboards with Numeric Pads are not good if they result in more keys on the standard keyboard being doubled up requiring the Function Key to be pressed such as Home / End / Page Up / Page Down. Try positioning your cursor in an MS Word Document somewhere in the middle and selecting all the text to the bottom of the page. CTRL-SHIFT-END becomes CTRL-SHIFT-FUNC-END. What a joke. So you now need an external keyboard. (You'll also note that the Back Space, Enter and Right Shift key will be shortened - so when you use your little fingers on the right to hit the delete, you'll have more chance of missing the key.)
So the above two combine to slow down productivity on a laptop compared to previous generations.
Today's laptops are rubbish.
agreeing with other posters here
yes the numeric keypad is a godsend, even as a home user, adding stuff up, inputting numbers into hobby related applications (bowling league software for one) makes having a numeric keypad a must.
and as for the looks...whats wrong with it? it looks like it is meant to , it doesnt have any snazzy colours, or led's all over the place, but its pretty sleek, the keyboard is very comfortable having tried a similar design.
And its performance is upper mid-range, so the price isnt the worst either.
add to that the fact that Toshiba laptops for the main part are pretty rugged, it should last a good while.
Other manufacturers may make lighter better looking machines but the build quality isnt as good.
right I am off to get some Humbrol paints to make my Samsung more interesting :)
Re: Laptops these days require external keyboard and monitor
My 1440 x 900 15in MacBook Pro isn't rubbish. Oh no.